Diversity Speaks

Your words mean everything to us. Please continue to voice your opinions, concerns and gratitude – sometimes we need the encouragement! Your varied perspectives influence our programming, so speak! 

 Our Words 
FIRST! Our official name is “QWOC+ Boston”, which expands to “Queer Women of Color and Friends, Boston.”  People, please stop omitting the (+) sign. It leaves out our friends, partners and socio-political supporters. We love our pluses. We need our pluses.

 How, when and why was QWOC+ Boston formed?

How and when QWOC+ Boston was founded is a bit of a long story. I suggest you check the About Us section to get the full picture. In answer to the “why”, the group was started in August 2006, simply to get more people of color and supporters of diversity to enjoy an ism-free social space. We’ve grown and evolved in numbers, recognition, goals, and programming since then,which is a very good thing. We hope to keep evolving.

 How is QWOC+ Boston funded?

Ha! QWOC+ Boston has no formal funding. Plus, since most of our events are free, we’ve mainly gotten by for the past three years by relying on the generosity of our main organizer, philanthropic supporters, and per-event donations.

Last year, we sent out cold mailings to local organizations to support our Diversity Speaks initiative (“QWOC WEEK”) and raised ~$2500, which helped cover the following: website hosting fees, phone line, P.O. Box rental, event planning costs for the entire year (e.g. space reservations, venue deposits), and the marketing materials (fliers, contact cards etc) that are necessary for spreading the word about our group and doing outreach.

Due to the downturn of the economy, we haven’t been as successful in soliciting funds. Also, believe it or not, it’s hard to convince people (even people/organizations of color!) that donating to QWOC+ Boston is a worthy cause! Yeah… even in 2009. But we aren’t losing hope. We are calling on our community members to donate whatever amount whenever they can, and encouraging local producers, promoters, grassroots organizations, and even smaller groups to throw fundraisers to raise money for QWOC WEEK. 

If you’d like to donate to QWOC+ Boston, or throw a fundraiser for QWOC WEEK, please send an email to info (at) qwocboston (dot) org.

 Who is the purple woman we see on every QWOC+ flyer? 

Ahh… the QWOC+ Lady. 

She first appeared on the flyer for the third QWOC+ Social. We were still in the process of honing our identity and were way more concerned with the language we used to promote the event than with the actual flyer. We immediately worried that our careless choice of using a more feminien figure would alienate members of the gender spectrum. In fact, we  almost replaced her!

Luckily for us, the flyer didn’t get in the way of our mission, which was to appeal to a wide variety of people. In fact, currently, the  QWOC+ lady appears to complement our internet presence. We suspect that this may be due to the fact that no one can tell what her ethnic background is, or, rather, the viewer automatically assumes that she belongs to their specific ethnic group. We find this theory fascinating, and convenient, since our group’s purpose is to promote ethnic/racial diversity first and foremost.

These days, our sassy mascot boasts a rather large fan base. It’s very likely to hear some variation of “That QWOC+ symbol is hot!”  while flyering or handing out info cards at various queer events. We love that people are beginning to recognize her. So much so, that we’ve decided to give our purple mascot a name: Spectra 

 What do the organizers hope to accomplish in the future?

Our general plan for 2009 is to delve a little deeper into diversity issues affecting queers of color; there will be more community discussions and forums around poc-specific issues around interracial relationships, queer families, gender presentation and terminology, transphobia, and biphobia.

We’ve also begun taking the steps necessary to actualize our commitment to reaching out to youth and college students in the area. If you’re a student that would love to get more involved with QWOC+ Boston and/or serve as a Student Ambassador on your campus, please send an email to volunteer (at) qwocboston (dot) org.

 Your Words 
Hi there, just a quick note to say thanks for organizing these events. it’s so great finally to have an opportunity for a truly diverse get together in the queer women’s community. I look forward to any and all future events! Cheers.

 In the past we have had social/community groups co-sponsor events with our organization; it basically involves cross marketing and the group gets a table to put stuff out at the night of the event. Would QWOC+ Boston be interested in this?

QWOC+ Boston is always excited about collaboration. However, we only co-sponsor events that are diversity-centered, and overtly intended to make the “others” of the mainstream community feel included in the social space we create; older LGBT folk, women of color, trans-people, parents etc. In order to avoid situations involving mis-matched ideals, this stipulation on lending our support is absolute. We also strongly prefer to be involved with the planning process from the beginning. If your organization aligns with our mission, please send us an email with your ideas and we can take the discussion from there. 

 Our Words 
QWOC+ Boston is interested in promoting real diversity – not just ‘mixing bowl’ aesthetics. 

  I recently moved to the area and have been searching for a qwoc space. I need to know, have your events in the past been mostly white people with a sprinkle of color? I just can’t get hyped for another qwoc event and be 1 of 3 people of color in a horde of 150 .

QWOC+ Boston is a group that promotes diversity with special emphasis on queer people of color. We recognize the importance of groups (like Somos LatinosMASALA and QAPA) that provide security and solidarity for their  members, but creating a space that is intended for womyn of color only doesn’t align with our vision. As such, you will find that there will be a number of white people, biracial/triracial and international queers at the events (and part of our organizers committee!). You will definitely not be ‘1 of 3’, thoughtlessly speckled into the crowd. A snapshot of a QWOC+ event is reminiscent of old school posters for the United Colors of Benetton . Seriously.

Follow Up:
Hey! I attended the event on Thursday and it was lots of fun. Thank you for creating a space for QWOC and their allies…keep me posted on future events and/or volunteer opportunities. Take care.

 What you guys are doing is amazing. I would like to get more involved. When do you have meetings? 

If you would love to volunteer for us, we would love to have you! Please see the Volunteer section of the website to get more information on volunteer, organizer, and student ambassador opportunities. We currently do not have a set regular meeting schedule. We only convene whenever we need to put our heads together for a major event, but in the meantime, are constantly spamming each other’s inboxes.

 Your group is Queer “Women” of Color. Are Trans-women/men included? 

Of COURSE they are!

The validity of your question is deeply saddening, and is one of the main reasons why we are working hard to create a more inclusive social environment. Trans-phobia spans our entire community, including queers of color. Hence, we are pro-actively trying to find ways to reach out to trans people and make them feel like a REAL part of the community. There is a lot to be done, but we’re hoping to recruit some motivated Ambassadors to help us with this quest. If you’re interested, or know of any  person that is committed to working towards the elimination of trans-phobia within our community, please have him/her/them contact us. 

Fact: The QWOC+ signature purple ‘O’ is a lighter representation of a symbol we found online for transgender people. This symbol was actually strategically placed on our very first fliers. We wanted to get the message out as early as possible; that we’re trans-friendly and determined to hold Boston accountable for overlooking this part of the community for a very long time. 

 Hey. I’m white. I’m not sure if I can attend the next QWOC+ event. It seems like it’s strictly meant for queers of color. 

Everyone is welcome at our events, but we imagine that our communications style generally attracts diversity-conscious women who acknowledge our mission to provide a warm, friendly, inclusive space for women of color. The women that show up truly support that idea, whether or not they identify as a QWOC or not. For us, this is the most rewarding part of being a part of this initiative; it is something magical to witness the now-at-ease dynamics of the interracial and cross-generational friendships, long-term relationships, budding romances and dance-offs. Yeah, dance-offs… Guess you had to be there…

 Your Words